No matter the version, the final table at the World Series of Poker continues to be the most important and compelling event in the sport.
What used to be decided in the summer at Binion’s and later became the November Nine when moved to the Rio, has now settled in as the Octo-Nine. So sit down and watch the ESPN coverage next Monday and Tuesday night almost live.
Jesse Sylvia, one of two Vegas residents to make the final nine, comes back as the chip leader with 43,875,000. The group is competing for a top prize of $8.5 million along with the prestigious gold bracelet. This year’s tourney started with 6,598 players.
Sylvia, 26, is more than 14 million chips ahead of second place Andras Koroknai, 30, of Hungary and the lone international player to reach the final table. Koroknai, with roughly 29.4 million chips holds a slight edge over third place Greg Merson, 24, of Laurel, Md., with more than 28.7 million.
Russell Thomas, 24, of Hartford, Conn., has 24.8 million and Steven Gee, 57, of Sacramento, Calif., nearly 16.9 million to round out the Top 5.
The remainder of the nine contenders include:
• Michael Esposito, 44, Seaford, N.Y. 16,260,000.
• Robert Salaburu, 27, San Antonio, Texas 15,155,000.
• Jake Balsinger, 21, Tempe, Ariz., 13,115,000.
• Jeremy Ausmus, 32, Las Vegas, 9,805,000.
The prize breakdown from second to ninth place is as follows:
• 2nd place: $5,292,889; • 3rd place: $3,797,558; • 4th place: $2,850,494; • 5th place: $2,154,616; • 6th place: $1,640,461; • 7th place: $1,257,790; • 8th place: $971,252; • 9th place: $754,798
ESPN has been airing the 2012 event in two-hour segments since July 31. The Main Event Final Table coverage on Oct. 30 will be aired until a winner is determined.
Merson will have the inside track on 2012 WSOP Player of the Year honors with a victory, having won the six-handed No limit Hold’em tourney prior to the start of the Main Event that earned him a seven-figure payday.
Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].